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Archive for May, 2007

"Vote early, vote often!" and other tales

May 18th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

I don't know how many of you saw it, but there was a blog contest out from 5/1 to 5/15 having to do with "Confessions of a...". There were several entries and everyone can now vote on their favorite 3. Go check out the blog section of the forums and vote! There were some great entries!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

As of right now, my DH should be in New Zealand. He left yesterday afternoon and got there....tomorrow. He skipped Friday entirely. They are 17 hours ahead so it is already tomorrow morning. Can't quite wrap my head around it but what can I do. That means that for the next 2.5 weeks I am entirely on my own. I am not really "scared" just a littler nervous. I know it will be life as usual, but if something goes wrong, I will be the only one to deal with it. On the other hand, once I clean something it should stay that way for more than a few minutes. Smile

Right after work this afternoon we are headed to my parents house, about 2 hours away. Mom and I will be spending most of the weekend geocaching while Bumpa gets to play with Caleb. They are going to have a blast. Caleb is already talking about riding the Gator and Unky's 4-wheeler. He has a blast running around in the woods and chasing the dogs. We will be able to take him to the camp fire at the geocaching event on Friday night so that should be a good time. He will get to try his first Smore...mmmmmm can't wait!

Money wise, this weekend should be fairly low spend. Gas will be the only BIG expense. Put $65 worth in my car this morning and I am sure I will have to do the same before the end of the day tomorrow.

The past week has been a roller coaster for the budget. Scott needed quite a bit of stuff for his trip to NZ...power converter, travel size stuff, new pants, etc. That set us back a bit. Then I also had to buy a belated Mother's Day gift for my mom. I know she will love it, and I wanted to give her more, but I cringe just thinking about the money. Maybe that is a sign that I am healing my spend-thrift ways.

Rummage sale-o-rama!

May 11th, 2007 at 09:30 pm

Took the morning off of work today and went to some local garage sales with a friend of mine. The small community we were in has a city-wide sale at this time every year and they are fabulous! We spent 4 hours and only made it through ONE neighborhood. Spent $100 but got all of my sons summer clothes for this year, several toys, a folding easel, and 12 skeins of yarn. Great deals were everywhere!

Tomorrow are the neighborhood sales at the ritzy subdivision near our neighborhood so we may take a drive through there just to see what we can see.

The thing I love about garage sales, especially for kids stuff, is that when we are done with it we can get probably as much back out of it as we paid for it in the first place. Can't wait until I can start the stuff going out instead of only seeing it come in. My neighbor is having a sale in June and I might throw a few things in with her, just to be rid of them. Might as well make some money off it rather than sending it to Goodwill.

Should be a busy weekend around here. My parents are coming into town tonight, we are going to a friends house for dinner, tomorrow we are meeting friends at the farmers market, and then tomorrow night we are going to another friends house for dinner. The good news is that I don't have to cook for the next couple of nights, the bad news is that I have no time to get anything done. Oh well, there will be other weekends to worry about that stuff.

Went to the chiropractor last night about my spasming back and it turns out that my lower two ribs on the left side were completely out of joint. Don't know how I did it, but it hurt like hell. He put them back were they were supposed to be, then I had ice on it all night, finally took some Advil and this morning felt much better. Starting to get sore again tonight, but at least I can feel marked improvement. Will probably have to go back in on Monday, but we will see.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Back to normal

May 10th, 2007 at 04:35 pm

Unfortunately, our total cash available was down to less than $100 before getting refilled this morning. We "borrowed" $1200 from ourselves in the form of OD transfers. OUCH! But, we are almost back to normal. We will have less to live on for the rest of the month than we are used to, but it will be a good challenge.

Took Ruby the Vizsla to the vet yesterday. Everything checked out just fine, but we are now out $150. Two shots and the heartworm test were most of it, but at least we know she is as healthy as she can be. The vet always remarks on how gorgeous her skin and coat are, but never asks what we are feeding her. That's OK, since most vets would flip out if they knew we were feeding her a RAW diet anyway.

Had to leave work early yesterday because Caleb had the WORST tummy pains. He vomited once at daycare, but didn't get sick again the rest of the night. However, every 15 minutes or so his little tummy would cramp up and he would be writhing in pain. There was nothing I could do and I felt horrible. I just held him until he felt better each time, then he was off an running again. He finally collapsed on the couch at 6:30 PM and didn't wake up until 6:00 AM. Woke up feeling fine this morning. At this point I am chalking it up to a weird bug and praying it isn't a food allergy (DH has bad food allergies and we have been very nervous about DS developing them).

I seem to have tweaked my back. I either pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve on my left side that is generally a dull ache until I reach for something the wrong way, then it is a horrible shooting pain. Getting out of bed was the biggest challenge of my day. Will be taking some Advil and hope I can make it to my chiropractor appointment this afternoon.

A little more income

May 9th, 2007 at 02:15 pm

I did my first survey for Pinecone last week and am having the $5 sent to my bank account as we speak. Also, I sold 3 books last month on Half.com and they just deposited $19 into my checking account. Gotta love it! As soon as we are back flush with our savings account (tomorrow) I will be transferring this money into our buffer account. Any little bit that I can see that grow will not be wasted effort.

Blah blah blah

May 8th, 2007 at 03:18 pm

Even though the days are getting longer, my time seems to be getting shorter. Scott was gone last night to Grand Rapids so of course I didn't get anything done around the house. We didn't get home until almost 7 due to chiropractor appointments and having to stop to pick up dog food, and of course it was tough dragging Caleb into the house, but I can't leave a 2 YO outside alone while I cook dinner. So there was much screaming and yelling and scratching....and that was just me! (ba da bum) But seriously, the evening went really fast.

Now for my big confession. I arrived at work yesterday to find 2 emails saying that OD protection had been advanced for my account to the tune of $1000 total. Ugh. Guess I wasn't paying as close attention as I originally thought. There is nothing I can do about it until pay day at the end of the week, so we are just going to have to pray for a miracle between now and then. I momentarily went back to my old ways and now we are paying the price. I will be able to pay back the OD this week, but we are not going to have ANY discretionary spending for the rest of the month. Scott is leaving for New Zealand in a few days and won't be back until June, so it will be up to me to keep things under control.

Yup, 2.5 weeks as a single mom. I am not really looking forward to it, but I am not as terrified as I thought I would be either. Originally, I was planning on going along with DH to New Zealand, but I just feel uncomfortable leaving DS for that long. I just hope that I have the chance to go there in the future. Has always been a dream of mine, I just hope I didn't squander my only opportunity.

I updated the total debt numbers on the side yesterday. Our credit card payment date is much earlier in the month now, so we are all of a sudden below 5 digits on your main credit card. Yippee! And we are quickly approaching the $2000 mark for payoff. That feels great for sure.

Savings for our "buffer" (equal to one months expenses) are completely non-existent. However, I have moved all of the money in our EF from our credit union to ING, so now I have a savings account that I can use to store the money until it is full. At this pace, it could take forever to get the account full. *sigh* One day at a time, right?

Confessions of a Compulsive Shopper

May 3rd, 2007 at 04:57 pm

Hi, my name is Sara, and I am a compulsive shopper. Worse, I am married to another compulsive shopper. As a result, we are $33,000 in debt in about 9 years. The first step in many recovery programs is first admitting you have a problem and Saving Advice has been very helpful to me for this reason. After all, confession is good for the soul.

After years of research and reading, I have reached some conclusions. First, compulsive shopping isn't something that is obvious at first and there are varying degrees. Like almost everything, we fall into different categories:

The "I deserve it" shopper: this shopper feels entitled to anything and everything. May stem from childhood or simply be narcissistic.

The "I NEED it" shopper: this shopper feels they have been denied and can't go on without the latest gadget or life will be greatly improved, just by buying something.

The "But it's on sale" shopper: this shopper has good intentions, but you can't spend money to save money. Doesn't work that way. Buying something you may not use just because it is on sale it counter-productive

The "I work hard and earn plenty of money" shopper: this shopper is in denial and probably doesn't know what their bank balance is. After all, that is what overdraft protection is for, right?

The "I have to have this because everyone else does" shopper: the classic keeping-up-with-the-Joneses syndrome. Trends may come and go, but you will still have the debt.

The "If I buy this, I will feel better about myself" shopper: possibly the most sad, this shopper is trying to fill an emptiness with "stuff". In the end, it doesn't work, and you are left with the credit card debt.

Each of these shoppers has the same thing in common: an internal dialog telling them it is OK to spend money they don't have. That little voice in the back of your head isn't the same voice that controls your bank account and that is a very dangerous thing.

Now, I have never made an impulse purchase that was "big", thus I was able to deny that I was part of the problem. (DH managed to impulse buy a CAR, but we won't go into that) If there is a big purchase to make, I research it to death and know all my options before even shopping for the item. No, the "little" impulses are my downfall. I'm thirsty...go buy a water. I had a bad day....stop at the scrapbook store. I need some time alone....wander around Target putting stuff in the cart. Pretty soon, I have spent hundreds of dollars, a little at a time. In the end, the purchases made it hard to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month, so I just pay the minimum and promise to do better next month. But I never did, and look where it got me.

I have learned to combat these impulses in a couple of ways:

** Always shop with a list and never deviate.
** Know EXACTLY how much money you can spend.
** Carry a calculator, if you need to, to add the things up that are in your cart.
** Give yourself an allowance, separate from your household budget, for those "impulse" purchases you "need". You can't be cured in a day, but you can give yourself limits.

Remember, you are the only one in control of your life and your future. Choose to be responsible with your money and set goals for yourself. If you give yourself boundaries, stick with them. And, finally, find a supportive outlet so that you don't have to do it alone.

(BTW, for those of you wondering...I fall into all of the shopper categories that I described above, it just depends on the day) Smile

OAMC

May 2nd, 2007 at 02:19 pm

Homebody asked in a comment to my last entry, what I made at my latest OAMC (Once A Month Cooking) session. Well, the list is huge, but here goes:

Pepper Steak
Polynesian Steak
Greek Burgers
Jamaican BBQ Chicken
Chicken Fajitas
Apricot BBQ Chicken
Moroccan Chicken
Ginger Honey Glazed Fish
New England Fish Cakes
Cajun Pork Stir-fry
Hawaiian Pork Kebobs
Tex-Mex Pork Wraps
Caribbean Chicken
Stir-fry chicken & veggies
Garlic Steak

A while back I wandered across a website called www.savingdinner.com that had several freezer cooking documents available called "Mega Menu Mailers" or "MMM". It comes with a grocery shopping list, a prep list, and detailed assembly instructions to put together meal kits that you thaw and cook later, just like those meal assembly places that are so popular these days. Only problem is, my DH is allergic to CORN. All of those chain places use ingredients that are loaded with corn in the form of corn syrup, corn starch, modified food starch, maltodextrin, etc. With the MMM I can use the ingredients that I know are safe and I think I come out saving money. Basically for $150 worth of groceries I got 15 ready to cook meals that are safe for my family to eat.

There are 3 different sets of MMM that have 20 meals each (I don't make them all for personal tastes) and then there are several that are smaller with only 5 recipes, all for one type of meat. They just added a Vegetarian MMM too, but I haven't checked it out. Not really my cup of tea.

Here is the downfall....you have to pay for them. Not a lot, and it is a one time fee, but it is still money out of pocket. For my family, though, it is worth it. No corn for DH, no nuts for DS and I only spend 6 hours cooking per month, it is just all at one time. Smile

Long time gone

May 1st, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Man, it has been forever since I had a chance to post. Last week was just INSANELY busy at work. I had very little time to even think straight, much less fill you in on anything. Then, the weekend was gorgeous so we spent most of it cleaning, working outside and spending time as a family.

Today I am suffering from the weekend spending hangover. Spent WAY too much money and I feel like I lost all my control. The worst part....I am the one who spent all the money. There were trips to Target, grocery store and the craft store that together totaled over $200. My available flexible cash for 2 weeks was $50. See the problem? I am going to have to take another loan from the savings account to cover the expenses. Makes me want to cry. I am going to look at my purchases tonight and make the decision on whether any of it can be returned. The groceries were something that we needed, but most of the craft store purchases were wants, not needs. All of the stuff from Target was household stuff that we needed, but we could have probably gone without for a while.

Well, last weekend my OAMC session went fabulously. We put together 17 meals EACH so that should take us most of the way through the month without having to grocery shop, besides bread, milk and eggs. We spent about 6.5 hours between the shopping and the assembly, which is pretty good for that many meals, I think. Last time I did it alone it took me almost twice that.

We have been eating a lot of PB&J for lunches and have managed to only eat out a handful of times in April. I am going to try to do a better analysis tonight when I import all the final April numbers into YNAB.

I scheduled a big transfer from our credit union to ING this morning. This will affectively move our entire freedom/EF account to the higher interest bearing ING account. If it is just going to sit there until we need it, might as well be earing a better interest rate that 0.75%. I will still be keeping track of it via the old spreadsheet method, but now it is just in a different place. Here is the best news though....I have paid back all of the money that we had borrowed from the freedom account in the form of overdraft protection. We were over $800 short, and I have managed to pay it back in about 3 months. However, we are still $1500 short in the long term savings account, but now I will shift my attention to paying that account back.

That is the long and the short of it. We are still hanging in there, but just barely. The debt is going down, but our daily expenses are not. Have to get them under control or we are doomed to repeat how we got here.